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5 Family-Friendly (and Affordable!) Activities in San Diego

by Eugenia Lazaris

Jan 4, 2020

Saletomic | Dreamstime.com


There is no shortage of family fun in sunny San Diego, with attractions like SeaWorld and Legoland, but these big-ticket destinations can really be a strain on the budget. Check out these alternative attractions in San Diego, guaranteeing your family has tons of fun together without breaking the bank.


Torrey Pines Natural Reserve

This spot is totally free to visit and it’s a great way to get the family hiking outdoors, sightseeing and adventuring. This coastal nature reserve is totally free to visit and is one of the best places in the city to enjoy a day of fresh air followed by a beautiful sunset. Bring lunch and enjoy the park’s several trails — all various lengths so there is something for everyone. There is also great swimming on the beach below the reserve during the warmer months.


Coronado Island

This beautiful island located within San Diego Bay is known as one of the most picturesque spots in the city. Starting with a massive steel-girder bridge transporting you there (which itself is often a draw for tourists) to the dog beach on the far side of the island, there is plenty to see and do on Coronado.


San Diego Botanic Gardens

Botanic gardens are always a great way to spend a day as a family wandering through beautiful topiaries — San Diego’s version doesn’t disappoint. With 37 acres filled with 5,000 plant species to explore, along with plenty of children’s activities, including the Hamilton Children’s Garden, there is something for every member of the family. Admission for adults is $18 while kids get in for $10.


Botanic Garden Building. Photo; Giovanni Gagliardi | Dreamstime.com


Harper’s Topiary Garden

This unique attraction won’t take much time to visit but it’s worth the effort to find it and experience the fascinating topiary garden in a local couple’s front yard. This labor of love includes more than 50 life-sized topiaries carefully trimmed by hand into fun and beautiful figures. The couple created this quirky site to give people something fun and creative to look at and it gives visitors some great photo opportunities.


Land and Sea Tours

Amphibious bus tours are always a fun way to explore a city. Seal Tours’ Hydra-Terra vehicles take guests on a 90-minute, narrated tour of downtown San Diego before hitting the water for an aquatic tour of the bay. The first 30 minutes on land show you the main sites and the remaining 60 minutes in the water let you observe native marine life and experience a totally different perspective on the city.


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